Amid international attention, the West Philippine Sea (WPS) has once again taken center stage as tensions escalate between China and the Philippines. Responding to recent assertive actions by China, the Philippines is unequivocal, accusing its counterpart of deliberately provoking hostilities in the contested maritime territory. The idea of China provoking PH is clearly not beneficial.
Unveiling China’s Provocations in the West Philippine Sea
Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro recently countered China’s claims, taking an assertive stance and emphasizing that China is provoking PH through its aggressive actions.
A noteworthy incident unfolded as the China Coast Guard installed a 300-meter floating barrier near Scarborough Shoal. This move is perceived as a deliberate attempt to obstruct Filipino fisherfolk from reaching their traditional fishing grounds, constituting a clear provocation and a violation of international law, according to the Philippines.
Teodoro underscored that the Philippines is not sitting idle but responding robustly to what it perceives as China’s provocations. He pointed to the removal of the floating barrier as a necessary and assertive reaction to China’s actions in the West Philippine Sea.
China’s Response: Urging Caution
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Wang Wenbin, responded by cautioning both countries to avoid provocations or stirring up trouble. This adds another layer of complexity to the already tricky relationship between China and the Philippines.
Teodoro believes that China’s actions, like deploying its coast guard and maritime militia disguised as fishing vessels, show a clear intent to control the whole South China Sea. He argues that this is evident in China’s ambitious territorial claims, as outlined in its 10-dash line.
Political Pushback and Asserting Sovereignty
Within the Philippines, House Deputy Minority Leader France Castro vehemently denounced China’s assertion that the Philippines intruded into Scarborough Shoal “without their permission.” Castro emphatically emphasized that China has no right to dictate actions within Philippine territory and urged the government to assert sovereignty.
As noted, the current situation underscores the long-standing maritime disputes in the South China Sea, with multiple nations asserting their claims over various islands and exclusive economic zones. The Philippines continues to pursue a whole-of-government approach to peacefully settle disputes while asserting its sovereign claims over waters within its exclusive economic zone.
In any case, as tensions persist, the international community watches closely, hoping for a peaceful resolution to the complex issue in the West Philippine Sea.